The residence permit called Settlement Permit (“Niederlassungsbewilligung”) enables third-country nationals to stay in Austria for a limited period of time and only to work on a self-employed basis, which means that they are not allowed to pursue gainful employment as a salaried employee.
For example, you can receive a Settlement Permit if you:
- are the life partner (girlfriend or boyfriend in a permanent relationship but are not married nor in a civil partnership) with an EU, EEA or Swiss national.
- extend your Red-White-Red – Card for Self-Employed Key Workers (“Rot-Weiß-Rot – Karte für Selbstständige Schlüsselkräfte”) after 2 years.
- want to extend your Red-White-Red – Card for Startup Founders (“Rot-Weiß-Rot – Karte für Start-Up-GründerInnen”) after 2 years and a Red-White-Red – Card Plus (“Rot-Weiß-Rot – Karte Plus”) is not an option for you.
Are you immigrating to Austria and applying for a Settlement Permit for the first time? In this case, you will need the following documents:
- Proof of sufficient financial means/means of subsistence
- Proof of having officially recognised health insurance
- German language competence at an A1 level, or an equivalent
You will have to present different documents or fulfil different requirements. This depends on the specific situation in which you apply for a Settlement Permit.
Settlement Permit for persons who are not married or not in a registered partnership to an EU national
Are you in a permanent relationship with an EU, EEA or Swiss national, but you are not married nor in a civil partnership? In this case, a Settlement Permit ("Niederlassungsbewilligung") could be just the right type of residence permit for you.
You need these documents if you want to obtain a Settlement Permit as a life partner:
- Application form
- Passport photo fulfilling EU criteria (not older than six months)
- Personal documents:
- Police Clearance Certificate (“Strafregisterbescheinigung”), not older than 3 months
- Proof of your having a life partner:
- Proof that you are in a permanent relationship (e.g., rental agreement showing that you have already lived together abroad, proof of joint trips, proof of communication between you, etc.)
- Declaration of Liability (“Haftungserklärung”)
- Registration Certificate (“Anmeldebescheinigung”)
- Proof of sufficient financial means (pay slips, bank account statements, etc.)
- Proof of health insurance coverage in Austria
- A1 German Certificate (not older than one year) showing your German language competence
- If you completed your studies at a recognised university, you do not need a German language certificate. Instead, you need to show your university diploma to the authorities. Legalisations may be necessary depending upon the country which issued the diploma. It does not matter which studies were completed and in which language. The only thing that counts is that the university is recognised and that the diploma document is translated and legalised either into German or English. This diploma is considered to be a substitute for the A1 German Certificate and also for the A2 Integration Certificate (“Integrations-Zertifikat A2”).
- Note: Did you do your school-leaving examination (“Matura”) or complete university studies in Austria? In these cases, you also do not need to show a German proficiency certificate.
- Attention: In principle, only German certificates from the following institutions are accepted: Austrian Integration Fund (ÖIF), ÖSD, TELC and Goethe Institute.
- Costs: € 160.
- Depending on which country you live in, you may need to show one or more Police Clearance Certificates. You can look up which ones you need to get here.
- Personal documents must have special legalisation in order to be recognised. This depends on the country where the documents were issued. You can check here which one you need.
- If your documents were not issued in German or English, they usually need to be translated by a court-certified translator.
- You may have to pay more than 160 euros in fees if you have to show additional personal documents or need a Visa D.
- All this also applies to life partners of Austrians if the Austrian has made use of his/her right of residence under EU law., e.g. if he/she can prove that he/she has worked in another EU/EEA country for more than 3 months. In this case, the Austrian does not have to submit a Registration Certificate, but proof that he/she has made use of the right of residence under EU law.
- In a Declaration of Liability, a person declares that he/she will pay for the requirements of accommodation and means of subsistence for the person applying for a residence permit and that he/she will be liable for reimbursement of costs incurred by the Austrian state due to the person's stay. The Declaration of Liability must be legalised by a notary in Austria or by an Austrian court and must be valid for at least 5 years.
When applying for the Settlement Permit – Relative, it is important whether you are allowed to enter Austria without a visa or not.
- Are you allowed to enter Austria without a visa? As soon as you have gathered all the necessary documents, you can come to Austria and submit your application for the Settlement Permit – Relative to the competent Immigration Authority (“Aufenthaltsbehörde”). The application will then be processed by the Immigration Authority for several weeks and approved. Subsequently, your Settlement Permit will be printed. If you want, you will be allowed to work on a self-employed basis as soon as you receive the card. You are not allowed to pursue gainful employment as a salaried employee.
Please pay attention to the number of visa-free days you are entitled to! Generally, you have a maximum of 90 days (out of 180) in which you can stay in the Schengen Area. If you have not received the Settlement Permit within these 90 days, you must leave the Schengen Area and apply for the Visa D in the country in which you currently live. Generally, it is advised to await approval of your application in your home country.
- Are you not permitted to enter Austria without a visa? In this case, you will have to submit your entire application for the Settlement Permit to the Austrian representative authority (embassy, consulate) in your country of residence. Your application will then be sent to Austria by the representative authority where it will be processed. Once your application has been approved, you will receive an invitation from the Austrian representative authority. In this invitation, you will be asked to apply for a so-called Visa D within the following 3 months and to pick up your Settlement Permit in Austria within a period of 6 months. In order to receive a Visa D, you will need the following documents:
- Application form
- Passport with a copy
- Invitation of the representative authority
- Approval of the Immigration Authority
- Travel insurance (coverage of at least € 30,000)
- Flight reservation
Usually, it will take about 2 weeks until the Visa D is stamped in your passport. During this processing time, the representative authority will keep your passport. As soon as you have your Visa D, you can travel to Austria and have your fingerprints taken. Furthermore, you will also have to show your personal documents (passport, birth certificate, Police Clearance Certificate, etc.). Your Settlement Permit will then be printed. Once you receive it, you are permitted to begin working on a self-employed basis if you want.
- You are not entitled to enter Austria without a visa, but would like to submit your application directly to the Immigration Authority in Austria? This is possible, provided that you have a valid visa that entitles you to enter and stay in Austria. The procedure can be awaited in Austria as long as the visa is valid. If the visa expires before your Settlement Permit is issued, you must leave the country in time. For a new entry to pick up the Settlement Permit, a Visa D must be applied for at the respective Austrian representative authority (embassy/consulate).
Validity, extension and family
The first Settlement Permit is usually valid for 1 year and can then be extended again for 1 year. After 2 years in Austria, you can get a Settlement Permit which is valid for 3 years.
If you want to pursue gainful employment as a salaried employee, you can change to a Red-White-Red – Card Plus under certain conditions after 2 years. In this case, the Austrian Public Employment Service AMS must confirm that permission for you to pursue employment is warranted on the basis of your particular social and family roots in Austria. In this case, you must be prepared for a complex process lasting several months until you receive your residence permit. This only makes sense if you want to pursue gainful employment as a salaried employee, because this is not permitted with a Settlement Permit. In other words, it is not necessary to change over to a Red-White-Red – Card Plus if you wish to continue working on a self-employed basis or if you do not intend to work at all.
As a rule, joint children (up to the age of 21) who are third-country nationals and whose parents are an EU national with a life partner who has a Settlement Permit can be granted a Residence Card (“Aufenthaltskarte”) due to their close family relationship with an EU national.
If there is no family relationship between your child and an EU citizen, your child can get a Settlement Permit as well. For this purpose, they need a quota place.
Settlement Permit as an extension of a Red-White-Red – Card for Self-Employed Key Workers
After a period of 2 years, third-country nationals who have a Red-White-Red – Card for Self-Employed Key Workers (“Rot-Weiß-Rot – Karte für Selbstständige Schlüsselkräfte”) can receive a Settlement Permit which is then valid for 3 years. This is only possible if all requirements are still met. A Settlement Permit only allows you to continue working on a self-employed basis. You are still not permitted to work as a salaried employee.
However, in the case of a subsequent extension, after being in Austria for a total of 5 years, you can apply for the Long-Term Resident EU permit (“Daueraufenthalt EU”) if you fulfil all requirements. The Long-Term Resident EU permit gives you unrestricted access to the Austrian labour market and also allows you to work as a salaried employee.
Individuals who have a Red-White-Red – Card for Start-Up Founders (“Rot-Weiß-Rot – Karte für Start-Up-GründerInnen”) can receive a Settlement Permit after 2 years if they do not fulfil all the requirements for the Red-White-Red – Card Plus.
As a rule, you need these documents in order to obtain an extension of your Settlement Permit
- Application form – please tick Extension application (“Verlängerungsantrag”)
- Passport photo which is not older than six months and which fulfils EU criteria
- Proof of accommodation in Austria (rental agreement, last 3 rental payments, etc.)
- Proof of health insurance coverage (copy of Austrian e-card, etc.)
- Proof of sufficient means of subsistence (proof of income etc.)
- Additional documents relating to your business
- Fees: € 160
Settlement Permit for other target groups in family reunification
In addition to the life partners of EU nationals, other relatives (e.g., uncle, aunt, grown-up children) can also receive a Settlement Permit under certain circumstances. The underlying requirement is that these relatives were financially dependent and were already financially supported by the EU national in their home country, already lived in the same household in the country of origin or else personal care is absolutely necessary on serious health grounds.
Close family members (husband/wife, civil partner, under-age children) of third-country nationals who have one of the following can also receive a Settlement Permit
- Settlement Permit
- Settlement Permit – Artist
- Settlement Permit – Special Cases of Gainful Employment (in most cases) or
- Settlement Permit – Relative
However, for this purpose they need a quota place.
- §§ 43 Austrian Settlement and Residence Act (“Niederlassungs- und Aufenthaltsgesetz” - NAG)
- §§ 47 Austrian Settlement and Residence Act (“Niederlassungs- und Aufenthaltsgesetz” - NAG)